Students at five Pasco schools eligible for little-used Opportunity Scholarship transfers
After a year hiatus, Florida's program allowing students at persistently low performing public schools to choose higher achieving nearby schools with space is again available.
This year, children at five Pasco County schools that earned an F or three consecutive D grades from the state are eligible for the Opportunity Scholarships. The district has offered families the option of two C-rated campuses near each school.
Transportation is provided.
Students at F-rated Calusa Elementary may choose between Cotee River and Mittye P. Locke, while those at F-rated Hudson Elementary may pick between Shady Hills and Cypress.
Children assigned to triple-D rated Gulf Highlands have Cotee River and Deer Park elementary schools as choices, while those zoned to Gulfside may select Anclote or Mittye P. Locke, and those attending Pasco Elementary may switch to San Antonio or Chester Taylor.
This program represents the vestiges of Florida's original voucher system, which was found unconstitutional. It allows for limited options within the public schools for children at Florida's lowest scoring campuses.
State officials did not employ Opportunity Scholarships in 2015-16, because the state's accountability system was in transition and schools were not penalized for their test results. It came back into for 2016-17.
Pasco County families have not used the scholarships in large numbers over the years, with only around 1 percent of eligible students participating. In 2014-15, 197 students from seven schools transferred under the program. More than a third of those students left Gulf Middle School, which has since improved its outcomes.
Families have until July 30 to return their Opportunity Scholarship transfer requests.